by Tom Utescher
This year the annual Girls Mid-Atlantic Squash Association Championships were transformed from an individual competition to a team tournament, and in an all-Main Line final in Division I, Baldwin School waltzed past tourney host Episcopal Academy last Saturday, 9-0.
New Jersey’s Lawrenceville School proved to be the bane of both the Germantown Friends and Penn Charter teams. The Big Red ladies got past the GFS Tigers, 5-4, in an early match, and then defeated the Quakers, 6-3, in the third-place playoff in Division I.
The Springside Lions were able to bring some hardware back across the Schuylkill, as they won the Division II title over the Harriton/Lower Merion High School team (HLM), 9-0. A total of 10 schools entered the MASA event, and beforehand they were seeded into one of the two divisions based on their results in regular season matches.
Germantown Friends arrived in Newtown Square with a line-up consisting of (numbers one through nine) freshman Olivia Fiechter, juniors Carey Celata and Lydie McKenzie, senior Lyles Swift-Farley, eighth-grader Grayson Melby, seniors Emma Schmidt, Theresa Shropshire, and Lilly Tyson, and sophomore Anna Bezahler. Shropshire and Tyson have already firmed up their college plans, selecting Stanford and Wellesley, respectively.
Three schools in each division received byes in the first round of the tourney, but GFS was one of two teams in Division I that didn’t get the free pass. Despite wins by the Tigers’ Fiechter (3-0), Celata (3-1), McKenzie (3-0), and Shropshire (3-0), Lawrenceville was stronger on the lower reaches of the ladder and was able to prevail, 5-4.
The Tigers were somewhat disturbed at the tournament seeding that led to their quick exit. They had beaten Penn Charter head-to-head in early January, although PC logged a win over Episcopal, which GFS was unable to do. Fiechter, a Chestnut Hill resident, was clearly the top high school player in the region this year, going undefeated in all of her individual matches without losing a single game in the process.
In Division II Agnes Irwin defeated the Hill School in the opening round. With that, the Owls advanced to meet the Springside line-up of junior Libbie Maine, seniors Annie Maxwell and Amanda Culp, eighth-grader Francesca Fabiani, freshman Caroline Canning, juniors Ellie Stout, Kelly Brady and Sam Blake, and freshman Courtney Hamilton. One of the Springside players could not participate in the first match at the tourney, so the line-up was completed by Carolina Concannon. Concannon is a senior who’ll attend Gettysburg College next year, along with Penn Charter upperclassman Kate Higgins.
The Lions cleaned house in their MASA opener against Irwin, winning 9-0 to move into the Division II final against HLM, which also swept its semifinal opponent, Shipley School.
One of the clubs that enjoyed a first-round bye in Division I was Penn Charter, whose nine spots were occupied by freshman Margaux Losty (a transfer from Episcopal), junior Tara Harrington, senior Colleen Fehm, junior Amanda Roberts, eighth-grader Izzy Hirshberg, senior Margaret Hilton, sophomore Ryan Shaffer, freshman Leigh Steinberg, and Higgins.
The Quakers had beaten their semifinal foe, Episcopal, in a 5-4 regular-season match but that was before an injury sidelined senior Demi Angelakis. She’s bound for Bowdoin College next year, while PC’s Fehm has picked Penn.
At MASA last Saturday EA was able to turn the tables on Charter, winning their semifinal match at 5-4 to move into the finals against Baldwin, which defeated Lawrenceville, 7-2, in the other semifinal. The Baldwin Bears, who haven’t lost locally (one of their closest matches was a 6-3 win over PC), swept Episcopal in the finals, while PC squared off against Lawrenceville in the third-place playoff.
The two schools had split in their regular-season bouts, each team winning 5-4 at home. Once again, the Big Red were served well by their team depth, taking the number one match and then winning at number five through nine. Holding the line for Penn Charter were Harrington and Fehm, who won their matches at 3-1, and Roberts, who battled to a 3-2 decision, carrying the fifth game, 13-11.
Meanwhile, Springside toasted HLM, 9-0, in the Division II championship match. Maine won 3-0 in the top spot, although it took a rally from a 4-10 shortfall in the third game to accomplish the feat. Each of the other Lions won 3-0 except for Maxwell and Stout, who prevailed 3-1. Playing an exhibition bout at number ten, Concannon notched a 3-0 victory.